Jordan Hattaway never thought he’d be a natural climber. But after spotting a Facebook post about an arborist with an MPTT scholarship, he decided to check out the trade. Less than a year later, he’s recently had the chance to compete in a national tree climbing competition. 

Jordan only started his arborist training this year, but he’s already made it to a national competition for his trade. 

Having entered a regional competition in Auckland, the 23-year-old didn’t quite qualify for nationals – but he impressed the judges enough to be picked as a wild card for the national competition in Queenstown, which he attended this month.

“It was a really exhilarating competition, especially for a boy who had no background in it. I never thought climbing trees would be this fun,” says Jordan.

“My next goal is to push for next year’s comp, and in the next five years to get a New Zealand title.”

Career climber

Competitive tree climbing is a replication of best practice in the arboriculture industry, without actually cutting a tree. Competing in these events helps further an arborist’s career.

To help Jordan (Ngāti Whātua) attend the event, MPTT provided $850 to cover his flights, accommodation and registration fee.

“All I can say is thank you to MPTT. They’ve done a lot for me so far and I can’t overstate what it’s done for me,” says Jordan, who lives with his partner, mother-in-law and 10-month-old daughter. 

“The scholarship has changed my life, honestly. This is definitely going to set me up for life and set my family up for life.”

Branching out

The Manukau Institute of Technology trainee began his training at the start of 2020, so is “real green to the arborist industry”. Having seen an MPTT Facebook post about becoming an arborist, he decided to check it out with his brother-in-law.

Jordan was chosen as a ‘wild card’ competitor for the national tree climbing event in Queenstown, which he attended with his tutor Zane Wedding and other trainees from MIT.

“As soon as we saw someone swinging in a tree, we were thinking, ‘Yeah, this is for us’. We’re basically like monkeys.” 

“I just never thought climbing would be something I would do. I didn’t even see that I had this natural ability to climb things.”

He spends around three days a week on his coursework, and on other days works at Specimen Treecare in Panmure. He also practices tree climbing on weekends, often in a reserve or park. 

“We’ll find a big tree somewhere that’s not dangerous, and we’ll practice for five or six hours on a weekend. That’s so we can get our muscle memory, so we remember what to do when we’re in a comp,” he says.

“I want to win a national title so I can be known in the book of arboriculture. It’s just going to be a hell of a lot of training. But, you know, I’m up for it. I’m ready to put in the effort.”

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